Staffing crisis threatening care home standards

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[cs_content][cs_section parallax=”false” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”2/3″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]A staggering 900 carers a day are quitting their jobs in the UK social care sector leading to a serious deterioration in standards, according to news reports this week.

The findings come from data gathered by the charity, Skills for Care, which analysed the state of employment in the UK care sector in 2015-2016.

According to BBC News, the data revealed that 60% of care sector staff had left the industry completely over that period. In addition, it was estimated that the sector is short of 84,320 care workers.

The situation is so dire that it has prompted the chairman of the UK Homecare Association, Mike Padgham, to write to the Prime Minister with a warning that the adult social care system has already begun to collapse.

Why are so many staff leaving?

With the majority of people who do choose to work in the care sector having such a strong sense of vocation for providing care and helping the elderly, there are clearly massive disincentives for staying in these roles.

Firstly, if you choose to work in the sector you can only expect to earn just over half the median average salary in the UK. What is worse, one in every four care sector workers are only employed on zero hours contracts.

Clearly a low pay packet combined with poor job stability is not going to appeal to most people looking for a job, even to those who would otherwise excel in a role that many people wouldn’t want to do in the first place.

Combine this with the demands of a job that is not always easy and it is perhaps not surprising that the UK care sector has a staff turnover rate of 27%, which is almost twice the average rate for other UK professions.

How is this impacting on care?

According to figures released by old people’s charity, Independent Age, a significant number of care homes are now failing to offer decent standards of care. For example, the charity found that around one in five homes are performing poorly in London and around one in three in the North West of England.

In fact, the North West hit the news this week as one of the worst areas for care home standards, with almost 66% rated as inadequate or needing improvement in Stockport and 54% rated as poor in Tameside.

According to ITV News, Independent Age put the regional variation in care quality standards down to levels of funding by local authorities and a lack of support for struggling care homes, as well as the difficulty of recruiting care workers and the problem of low pay.

What is the future for care home standards?

Clearly the government is trying to take some steps to help the UK care sector, with an extra cash injection of £2bn and permission for local authorities to raise council tax bills to help fund local social care services.

However, whilst pay and conditions remain an issue, high staff churn will continue to be a problem, leading in turn to ongoing difficulties in maintaining good care standards.

What’s more, with the Office of National Statistics finding that the number of people aged over 75 is set to double by 2040, care sector woes are only set to get worse without prompt and effective intervention.

Let’s hope the Government’s forthcoming Green Paper on adult social care will help them identify a sustainable, long term solution for supporting our care home sector.
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